18 March 2016

Study: Students’ perceptions on the introduction of information technologies in the process of achieving school tasks

Social changes affect the educational system. Adapting the educational process to the specific of the contemporary society will entail student school success. The purpose of this work is to analyze students’ perceptions on the introduction of information technologies in the process of achieving school tasks. Thus, the students will get to know the other benefits of the use of information technologies apart from those of socializing and entertainment. In order to increase school motivation, we believe that the schools need to ally themselves to the technologies of information and not to fight against them.

Introduction

The educational system is described at first sight as an institution that provides children with the information and skills necessary for their social integration, through specific activities. The educational context is constantly changing thus following the path that society develops through social change. The educational system is in a relationship of mutual influence with the society. Nowadays the society influences both the quality and the approach of the educational system, but the quality of today’s education will decide the future of our society.

Maria Voinea and Iulian Apostu say about teachers that they "fulfill a very important role in society as they provide the education and personality development of young generations, and their professional training within educational institutions, closely linked to life, social and professional activities, moral and citizenship"[1]. For ensuring an educational system that would focus on the academic success of the student, the entire educational process must adapt to both the needs of the student, and the social changes that occur in the society. Thus, the school, through its techniques should eliminate the influence of information technologies that got more and more hold of the educational process of the students, because most of the students prefer to get information via the Internet than reading a book.

The Rationale

In the early 1990s, the society experienced a fast development of modern information and communication technologies which led to the appearance of the concept of „informational society” [2]. These developments led to the birth of the "Net Generation", which "is instinctively oriented towards the internet in order to communicate, understand, learn, search and do a lot of things" [3].

The contemporary society is based on new requirements in the development process of the child, informational technologies doesn’t replace school, but rather complete the creation of an educational process specific to contemporary society. Many researches on how the student uses the information technologies revealed the fact that the prolonged use of the computer causes ”physical inactivity and its consequences, emotional disorders, addiction, increased production of dopamine..., impaired ability of concentration”[4]. However, the use of information technology may also have its benefits in the growth and development of the child. One of these benefits was highlighted by Tapscott who presented the results of the "Sim_Calc" project. This project’s objective was that every 5 th grade child to have access to a laptop, and the students that attended the project in the city of Cowansville registered decreases in conduct problems and increases in school competences [1].

Students between 10 - 16 years are attracted to the entertainment, especially to video games. They prefer to reduce significantly the number of hours allocated to school or extracurricular activities in favor of the use of the information technologies.

The objectives of this paper work are:

  • Identifying the activities that the students perform through information technologies;
  • Identifying the daily amount of time spent by the students using the information technologies;
  • Identifying students' opinions on the use of information technologies in school activities;
  • Identifying the ratio between the use of digital technologies by students and the time spent by them to accomplish school tasks.

The hypotheses underlying the research are:

  • If the students will receive school tasks they have to achieve with the help of informational technologies, then their motivation in achieving them increases;
  • The more students use information technologies for entertainment and online socializing daily, the more will decrease their time for homework.

Methodology

To analyze the correlation between the use of information technologies for school tasks and student motivation, we conducted a qualitative research using the sociological investigation based on interview. Thus, the research technique used is the semi-structured interview. It contained 12 basic questions but may be completed by other questions depending on each student interviewed. The sample is composed of 40 students aged between 10 and 16 years old (5th – 10th grades) based on the selection of the persons available, or based on recommendations form the persons previously interviewed in Slatina City. There is a 50 percent ratio between the male and female genders (20 boys and 20 girls).

Results

Most of the students interviewed described the use of computers and especially of the internet as an activity that provides many advantages for homework. Thus, they replaced the activity of going to the library and reading, with that of searching for information on the internet and later copying it.

The benefits of using the information technologies identified by the students are:
  • the internet provides an easy and fast access to information;
  • it is a modern toy against boredom;
  • it is a source of relaxation especially in the evenings, when the students return from school; - it represents a communication channel because all the students have social web pages.

The disadvantages identified by the students (23) which may arise from the use of the information technologies for a long period of time are: addiction to video games or online games, the emergence of eyesight problems and physical inactivity.

Following the identification of the time students spend using information technologies have been identified differences in the following age groups: children aged between 10 years -12 years use less the information technology than students aged 13-16 years. Also, there were observed differences in what concerns the activities carried through information technologies.

Students aged 13 years -16 years use more often the telephone than the computer, laptop or tablet. Due to programs like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the internet is used almost non-stop during the day, and the main activity is to socialize. The computer is used by the students surveyed aged 13-16 for an average of 4 hours and 30 minutes per day, and the Internet is used almost non-stop owning a latest generation phone.

The students surveyed aged 10-12 years usually use the computer for an average of 3 hours. A student in the 5th grade (14 years) spent the longest time in front of the computer: 8 hours. And a 11 years old student spends only 30 minutes on the internet via a tablet. His parents prohibited him to spend more than 30 minutes after a period of being addicted to video games.

Among the activities that students carry out through information technologies shall be listed: socializing, information and video games. There were identified differences in the nature of the activities performed by them, according to the following age categories: 10 -12 years and 13 -16 years:
  • Students aged 10 to 12 years use the information technologies mostly to listen to music and play.
  • Students aged 13 to 16 years use information technologies mostly to socialize with friends via websites and socializing networks (Facebook, WatspAPP, Askfm, Instagram) and for obtaining information in order to do their homework faster.

The activities performed through information technologies by the students interviewed have been classified as "interaction, socializing, friendship" (18 students) as the main activities they carry out via information technologies. In the second place, the students chose „information” activities. In the third place they opted for „entertainment” activities. And the last place was occupied by the activities of „searching for models or celebrities, etc”. 

The average time that the students surveyed aged 13-16 years assign to their homework is 3 hours, while for the students aged 10-12 years is 2 hours.

Thus, it is underlined the inversely proportion between the time spent using information technologies and the time spent to achieve school tasks.

There is a reverse proportionality between the time spent using information technologies and the time spent to accomplish the school tasks.


The surveyed students spend more time using the computer or the phone, thus the time reserved to homework decreases with one hour or one hour and a half. Out of the 40 students interviewed, only 14 received school tasks they had to complete using the computer. They said that they liked it very much and found it interesting, even if it happened occasionally for subjects like History, Geography, Religion and Mathematics.

Most of the students (37) showed interest in receiving school tasks to complete with the help of the internet, saying that is more interesting, it brings something new and changes the homework doing routine they usually do in the classroom during brakes. But three students (two girls aged 13 and 14 and a 16 year old boy) showed a negative attitude on doing homework via computer, claiming there would appear the following consequences: eyesight problems which lead to wearing eyeglasses, the risk of forgetting handwriting, and a possible difficulty in using the information technologies. They are afraid of the occurrence of these consequences only in case they receive this type of tasks frequently, otherwise they think a combination between information technologies and classic homework would please them. However, it should be noted that almost all the surveyed students are excited to be able to use the computer, the internet, or the television to complete their school tasks. Besides the fact that they will discover the benefits offered by the media, they will also gradually learn how to use these technologies in such a way their cognitive development will be affected.

Also, they consider the same thing applies to their colleagues who have a bad situation at school, claiming that those ones will certainly do their homework because they are passionate for using the computer. Only one student, aged 15 (9th grade) could not decide on this question, thinking there would be both advantages and disadvantages: if a student doesn’t want to do his homework and he has the computer opened, he will be tempted to play more and will put the homework on the second place. Or there may be the case when the student uses the computer in other purposes than playing, starts to like it and then accepts doing this kind of homework.

Of those 40 students surveyed, 12 considered that introducing the informational technologies in the process of homework doing would not affect very much the time they spend playing or socializing on the internet. But the other 28 students said that using the computer to do their homework would make them tired and thus they would want to spend more time outdoors. Thus the time students spend on the Internet for entertainment and socializing would be reduced, and the tiredness and boredom due to using the computer to do homework would determine the students to let aside the information technologies and opt for outdoor toys or activities.

Conclusions

The students received the idea with enthusiasm and are willing to complete their school tasks using information technologies. They consider that this way they will spend more time doing homework and they will do it with more interest and care. Also, school tasks achieved through information technologies will influence the attitude school students with bad academic results have about them. Because they are passionate for the computer activities, they will be motivated and thus their school results will improve.
As well as the first working hypothesis, also the second one which represents the basis for this work was validated. The time spent in front of the computer for doing homework will make students choose outdoor recreational activities. Thus the analysis of students’ perception regarding the influence that completing school tasks using information technologies have upon them shows the need to modernize the educational process in order to ensure school success.
Through this work I want to warn the teachers and parents on the fact that the use of information technologies by an unattended student and without a predetermined purpose could have a negative impact on his school results. Thus, by orienting the students towards a useful use of the information technologies, they will not only reduce the time their use for entertainment, but will also get access to scientific information that will help them in doing homework in a safe manner.


References

  1. Voinea, M. & Apostu, I. (2008). Family and School in Impasse? Values ​ ​ and social patterns in transition. Bucharest: Bucharest University, pp.131 – 298.
  2. Stefanescu, P. (2007). Internet and Societ. Bucharest: Ars Docendi Publishing, p.10.
  3. Tapscott, D. (2011). Digitally Raised Net Generation Changes Your World. Bucharest: Public Publishing, p.135.
  4. Pânişoară, G. (2011). Modern Child Psychology. Iasi: Polirom Publishing, p.164.

Acknowledgements

This paper was extracted from PhD Thesis „Romanian teenager and THE internet. Consuming practices and online risks” (University of Bucharest, Sociology PhD School, September 2015). The PhD Thesis received financial support through the Young researchers success - professional development in interdisciplinary and international context: POSDRU / 159 / 1.5 / S / 132400, project confinanced from the European Social Fund Operational Programme Human Resources Development 2007 - 2013.

This article was published in Transdisciplinarity and Communicative Action paper. LUMEN - TCA, November 21-22, 2014, Târgoviște (România), ISBN: 978-88-7587-713-2, pp. 311-314


Author: Prof. dr. Ustucă Maria- Mirela, C.J.R.A.E. OLT

In March 2013 we celebrated GEYC13 Anniversary